Apple clearly believes smartwatches are here to stay - the Watch 4 utterly proves that. The design alone is a big upgrade, with the screen offering far more visibility, and while the health benefits are only going to help a subset of users, they're welcome and show the direction Apple is heading. If it had better battery life, and thus was better able to track sleep, the Watch 4 could have been the perfect smartwatch.
Still on the pricey side
Battery life needs to be more than two days
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While it's no longer new, the Apple Watch 4 is still a robust smartwatch, with an upgraded design and display compared to the still-on-sale Apple Watch 3, along with an ECG sensor to track a user's heart rate, making one of the most desired timepieces in the world even more desirable.
The larger screen and more rounded edges are much nicer to look at and offer more functionality, and it also adds in some extra features too that are designed for those who are a little more vulnerable or suffer certain health conditions.
But it's getting on a bit now, having been superseded not only by the Apple Watch 5 but by the even newer Apple Watch 6, while if you're on a budget there's also now an affordable Apple Watch SE, which you might want to consider rather than this older model.
Still, the Apple Watch 4 remains a popular and supported smartwatch - one which can now be updated to watchOS 7 - so what does the smartwatch bring and is it right for you?
Update: watchOS 8 was announced at WWDC 2021, bringing more software and features when it fully launches later this year. Eager fans can get the developer preview now if they're part of the developer program, or join the public beta in July.
Apple Watch 4 price and release date
- GPS model starts at $399 / £399 / AU$599
- LTE version starts at $499 / £499 / AU$749
The Apple Watch 4 is available in four variants: 40mm and 44mm sizes, and with or without LTE. You can buy it now in almost every country around the world. It came out in September 2018 on the same day as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Keep in mind that Apple no longer sells the Apple Watch 4 through its online storefront, but you can still pick it up elsewhere online.
At launch, the GPS-only version started at $399 / £399 / AU$599 for the smallest version, and $429 / £429 / AU$649 for the larger one 44mm one. You can now find it for less, but there's not a huge discount.
The cellular option starts at $499 / £499 / AU$749 for the 40mm and $529 / £529 / AU$799 for the larger watch. If you're looking for a contract with the LTE watch, you'll be looking at carriers AT&T, Verizon, C Spire, Sprint, US Cellular and T-Mobile in the US.
If you’re in the UK, EE offers deals for the LTE version of the watch as it did for the Apple Watch 3, and now both Vodafone and O2 have joined the party by offering a data connection too. Those in Australia can find it on Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.
Expect to see big discounts on the Apple Watch 4 around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Although we're not certain it'll be discounted, we've seen solid deals in previous years on older models. We're expecting a lot of Black Friday Apple Watch deals this year in particular.
- Take a look at our full guide to the best Apple Watch 4 deals
- Health features only seen on the Apple Watch
- Quite niche, but useful
- Digital Crown haptic feedback is ace
The Apple Watch 4's key feature is really its design - we say that because while the extra health benefits are something that are worthy and really make this an attractive device for those in need of them, the pool of people this is relevant to is smaller than just those looking for a new watch.
Another major upgrade is the electro-cardiogram feature (ECG) that has so far only been enabled in select countries, including the US and the UK.
We've yet to test it out ourselves - we hope to soon - however, we were able to see it in action during our demonstration from Apple, where you need to activate the app on the phone and then hold the Digital Crown down to complete the electrical circuit in your body.
This spits out a set of data from the ECG to your Health app on the iPhone, which can be exported as a PDF and give information on rhythm to a physician, plus you're able to write notes to contextualize what was happening at the same time.
The other thing we weren't able to really test was the new fall detection, as you have to go down a certain way and remain there for a while to activate the feature.
We did try to fall, but it was getting a little embarrassing and perhaps we need to commit harder to the testing - we'll update the review if we get braver in the coming months.
However, one thing that did worry us a little about this feature is battery life - while it's great to see that fall detection exists, and will be set up automatically for those over 65, the fact that you really need to charge the Watch once a day is going to be harder to remember for some users and that could mean their safety blanket (or for those that bought the Watch 4 in the first place to safeguard a loved one) is redundant if the Watch has no power.
There's also a set of heart rate notifications, including one that's looking out for atrial fibrillation (AF), meaning you'll get a pop-up if there's anything that looks sketchy with your heart with regards to this condition, which could lead to life-threatening complications.
The Watch 4 also comes with an alert system if your heart rate goes too low or high: should your heart rate spike or fall hard for no reason for a long enough period (around 10 minutes) you'll get an alert telling you all is not well, and maybe you should see a physician.
We have a rather low heart rate from regular running training, and the update did ping in from time to time to reference to us that the heart rate testing was working.
The other key upgrades beyond the design, which we'll get onto in a minute, are more hidden in the heart of the Apple Watch 4 - there are sweet touches like a (virtually) clicking Digital Crown that feels like it's clocking through lists on the wrist. It even makes a slight noise, and the whole system is incredibly pleasing.
Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.